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Friday, September 27, 2013

Triglotta - Pieper Intro, Bente's Preface (Part 4b)

This continues from Part 4a reviewing the newly available book Concordia Triglotta from CPH. (See Table of Contents here)   This Part 4b continues my translation of Franz Pieper's essay on the appearance of the original book in 1921.  With some details out of the way, Pieper now approaches the heart of the matter – first he repeats the conclusion of Bente's Preface.
Underlining is in the original.  Highlighting is mine. 
Hyperlinks added including page links to original essay in Google Books.
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"Concordia Triglotta"
by Franz Pieper
Lehre und Wehre, vol. 67 (1921), pgs 297-301
(continued from Part 4a)

With what devotion the editors have made their extensive and painstaking work is expressed in the conclusion of the preface.  They see the true adornment of the Lutheran Church in its scriptural confession. 
"Not the great number of her adherents, not her organizations, not her charitable and other institutions, not her beautiful customs and liturgical forms, etc., but the precious truths confessed by her symbols in perfect agreement with the Holy Scriptures constitute the true beauty and rich treasures of our Church, as well as the never-failing source of her vitality and power."  "Accordingly, if Lutherans truly love their Church, and desire and seek her welfare, they must be faithful to her confessions and constantly be on their guard lest any one rob her of her treasure.  To strengthen this loyalty and to further and facilitate the study of our 'Golden Concordia' – such is the object also of this Jubilee Edition – the Triglot Concordia."
- - - - - - - - - continued in Part 4c - - - - - - - 

Pieper above repeats one of the most thrilling prefaces ever written for a book.  Its phrasing has stuck in my memory for many years since I first received my copy of the Triglotta from Northwestern Publishing House.  Bente boldly pulls all earthly glory away from the Lutheran Church... he strips it away.  I would call this phrasing "the great negation" by Bente:
  • not the great number of her adherents, 
  • not her organizations, 
  • not her charitable and other institutions, 
  • not her beautiful customs and liturgical forms...
How this jolted me when I was coming back to my Lutheran (Christian) faith.  Did he really exclude the Lutheran liturgical forms?  But this is so important to some Lutheran teachers today...  — I have thought of other phrases that Bente could have included such as "not her beautiful church buildings".  Bente almost equals Pieper who said:
All praise of Christ, of grace, and of the means of grace, without the right doctrine of justification, is nothing
Pieper identified the author of the preface as "the editors" in deference to W.H.T. Dau's work.  But I must now step in front of even Pieper and point to F. Bente as its author, not Dau.  W.H.T. Dau showed great weakness in his later years.  No, it was Prof. Friedrich Bente who especially makes this edition of the Lutheran Confessions authoritative for our modern times.  I will go one step further and say that this edition, the Concordia Triglotta, is the most authoritative since the days the Confessions were written!

If we now know what is not the glory of the Lutheran Church, then what is?  In the next Part 4c, Pieper highlights the true heart of the Lutheran Confessions.

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